Cryptococcal Antigen Blood Test
The Cryptococcal Antigen Blood Test detects the presence of cryptococcal antigens to screen for Cryptococcosis.
Cryptococcosis is an infection caused by the fungi Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii. Cases of Cryptococcus neoformans fungal infections are found globally. In contrast, Cryptococcus gattii infections are more localized to remote regions of the United States, Canada, Southeast Asia, and Australia. However, Cryptococcosis is the most common fungal infection seen globally.
Both fungi are found in the soil around trees, in tree hollows, on decaying wood, or in bird droppings. Healthy individuals that come in contact with these fungi may not experience any symptoms. However, people with weakened immune systems because of HIV/AIDS, cancer, taking medications like corticosteroids, or a recent organ transplant may experience life-threatening symptoms. This infection is not contagious and cannot spread between people or animals.
A person may become infected with these fungi after inhaling spores in the air; the spores then travel into the lungs, transforming into yeast cells that attack the lungs. These yeast cells multiply and eventually enter the bloodstream, spreading the infection to other body parts.
In the lungs, this fungal infection can cause pneumonia-like symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
This infection can develop into cryptococcal meningitis if spread to other body parts. Cryptococcal meningitis is when the infection spreads to the brain and spinal cord, causing the following symptoms:
- Neck pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light
- Confusion or changes in behavior
Other symptoms may include:
- Bone pain or tenderness of the breastbone
- Skin rash or other skin lesions
- Excessive sweating
- Swollen glands
- Weight loss
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